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By Rafi Michael
The Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony is an ancient and beautiful service. A unique part of the ceremony is that the Bride and Groom do not say any vows. The ceremony itself shows the couples? willingness to come forward and be married, and accept God into their new home. The ceremony consists of two parts: The Service of Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage. Each part of the ceremony has a special meaning and is significant in the joining of husband and wife. The ceremony starts as the Bride and Groom are each handed white candles to symbolize their willingness to accept Christ into their lives.
Some important elements of the GO ceremony include that the couple must have a religious sponsor(s). They are called Koumbaro (male) or Koumbara (female). They serve as an important witness to the union. Also, during the ceremony, certain acts and phrases are repeated three times. This represents the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Service of Betrothal The focus of the Betrothal is the exchanging of rings. The priest starts by blessing the rings and the couple. The rings are then placed on the third fingers of the right hands of the Bride and Groom. The reason the rings are placed on the right hand is because it is the right hand of God that blesses, and to which Christ ascended. The Koumbara or Koumbaro then exchanges the rings three times on the couples? fingers. This symbolizes the strength of the married couple.
The Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage
The Sacrament of Marriage consists of many important parts. As the priest concludes his prayers, he joins the right hands together of the Bride and Groom, and they stay joined until the end of the ceremony to signify the union of the couple.
The crowning of the couple with the stefana (two flowered crowns attached by white ribbon) signifies glory and honor that God crowns them with. The ribbon symbolizes the unity of the couple. The Koumbaro or Koumbara also plays a part by interchanging the crowns on the couples? heads.
The Common Cup
The crowning is followed by readings of the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gospel reading describes the marriage of Cana at Galilee, which was blessed by Christ and where He performed his first miracle. The miracle converted water into wine and was given to the newlyweds. Thus, wine is given to the couple as a remembrance. The Ceremonial Walk The priest will then lead the Bride and Groom around a table on the altar three times. On the table are the Gospel and Cross. The steps around the table represent the unending journey of husband and wife. The Koumbaro or Koumbara walks behind the married couple holding the stefana in place. The Removal of the Crowns After the Ceremonial Walk, the priest blesses the couple. The priest then removes the crowns and asks God to grant the couple a long, happy life together. He then separates the couples? joined hands, reminding them that only God can separate the couple from one another.
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